Open Source for Sovereignty

Parascending in Sydney Harbour

I was interested to see news from the European Commission where they announce a new policy to more frequently use open source software in the administration of the European Union. They say:

For all new development, where deployment and usage is foreseen by parties outside of the Commission Infrastructure, Open Source Software will be the preferred development and deployment platform.

It's not just European government that's opting for open source. Today the NSA (the super-secret spy agency in the US) have announced they are joining in with OpenSolaris. Barton has an interview that explores this more. I think we'll see more and more government engagement as the adoption-led market takes hold.

Using Free software from open source communities makes perfect sense for governments, and not just for the obvious reasons of up-front savings on license fees. As I heard said on behalf of the Brazilian government, open source is a matter of sovereignty. When a government decides to use closed software, they are guaranteeing that they will be sending money out of the local economy. The degree of expatriation depends on the actual system they've chosen. In the worst case, all the money goes to the US, all the resulting assets belong to someone else and all the ongoing service and support costs pay for the development of skills abroad.

By contrast, using Free software has no licensing costs. Any extra programming results in an asset shared by an open source community. All service and support can be handled locally, growing the skill-base and economy. What could be a smarter way for a government to obtain the essential infrastructure it needs and develop the local economy at the same time?

Comments:

Does that mean the future release of OpenSolaris kernel will have Security Enhancement component built in for Mandatory Access Control purposes just like SELinux does on Linux kernel?

Posted by Ben Wi on March 13, 2008 at 06:32 PM PDT #

There is a very puzzling contradiction, regarding the time that the OS friendly policy statement was made, in the EC announcement that you link to. In it's text one reads:

<<<In a document \*published last week\*, the EC states among other things that the Commission will prefer Open Source software for its new IT projects: "For all new development, where deployment and usage is foreseen by parties outside of the Commission Infrastructure, Open Source Software will be the preferred development and deployment platform.">>>

but if you click on the link for further information named "Open Source Software within the European Commission" at the end you go to an other page in THE SAME EC SITE (IDABC) where you can clearly read that the above policy statement was made more than a year before:

<<<\*On 14 February 2007\* the Commission's IT community approved a new strategy document and an associated work plan for the period 2007-2009. [...] The key items of this current policy are as follows: [...] For all new development, where deployment and usage is foreseen by parties outside of the Commission infrastructure, Open Source Software will be the preferred development and deployment platform.>>>

So now I'm really puzzled as to when this policy statement was made :| If only the "document published last week" was a link or at least in the "for further info" (as it would be the case in most half descent blogs out there but not in most "traditional" media).

Posted by guest on March 16, 2008 at 12:09 PM PDT #

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